NewsRussia detains 12 scientists over hypersonic missile research, accused of treason

Russia detains 12 scientists over hypersonic missile research, accused of treason

President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
Images source: © Getty Images | Contributor#8523328
9:33 AM EST, February 4, 2024

According to the Russian edition of the BBC, Russia's services frequently arrest scientists engaged in hypersonic weapon-related research. Russian President Vladimir Putin presented the unprecedented Russian hypersonic missiles to the Federal Assembly in 2018. The members of parliament watched a video depicting a simulated missile launch aimed at the United States. Describing the capabilities of the missile, Putin said, "It would be nearly indestructible due to its hypersonic speed, resembling a meteor."

The BBC noted that, post this event, the Russian president has spoken about the hypersonic weapon in at least 70 of his speeches. At least 12 scientists have been incarcerated following these presentations. The government blames these researchers for committing treason. Charges laid as per Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code span to include actions like spying and revealing state secrets.

The Russian Federal Security Service has arrested scientists from Moscow’s Central Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering (TsNIIMash), Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics (TsAGI), and the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences — Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITPM). Following their arrests, criminal proceedings were initiated.

"The scientists detained for engagements with hypersonic weaponry weren't directly involved with the said weapons," Eugene Smirnov, a lawyer who had previously worked on espionage cases in Russia, told BBC before he had to leave the country. Smirnov clarified that the arrests were made to emphasize the significance of the Russian missile program. "The topic of hypersonics is emerging, so people must be incarcerated," he added.

Smirnov further stated in the court documents he had access to, Russia possesses unique technology in the field of hypersonic weaponry and this technology is on the radar of foreign agents. He also contends that none of the scientists arrested in recent years were engaged in making rockets. They were exclusively involved in researching and understanding the physical phenomena linked to hypersonic speed. He mentioned to the BBC, "Scientists study physical processes. The research focussed on how metals will deform at hypersonic speeds or determined the zones of turbulence. It’s not about constructing a rocket, but about examining physical processes."

Source: BBC

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